Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fringe: CREDITORS

Toby Zinman says, "Just when I thought I knew Strindberg, the great modernist author of Miss Julie and The Father, PAC (Philadelphia Artists' Collective) gives us a revelatory production of his rarely performed Creditors."

Fringe: CREDITORS

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Just when I thought I knew Strindberg, the great modernist author of Miss Julie and The Father, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective gives us a revelatory production of his rarely performed Creditors; Charlotte Northeast’s directorial debut is nothing short of dazzling. Of course, she does have a remarkable trio of fine actors to work with.

This riveting old-fashioned drama is built on Strindberg’s profound belief that the battle of the sexes is a war to the death. It begins with two men talking: Adolph (Dan  Hodge) is ill and desperate: a painter who has lost faith in painting, he has been emasculated by his novelist wife, Tekla (Krista Apple), and his marriage is foundering, mired in suspicion and jealousy and distorted by power struggles. Gustav (Damon Bonetti), a mysterious smooth talker, manipulates the conversation, advising Adolph to assert himself and “husband your masculinity.”  

The performances are breathtakingly nuanced, sculpted with subtlety and passion -- Hodge and Apple and Bonetti are absolutely embedded in their roles. And the venue is perfect; the upstairs reading room of the Franklin Inn Club suggests the past, a world of books and grandfather clocks and ascots and long skirts, where dangerous obsessions roil under a civilized surface.

Strindberg based this play on his own life – his disastrous marriage to Siri von Essen, a famous  actress who was formerly married to a baron, and whom he accused publicly of trying to poison him, of being a lesbian, of bearing illegitimate children and trying to have him committed -- a spectacular combo of paranoia, passionate love and self-ridicule.

This biographical juiciness has another layer: Apple and Hodge are a couple, as are Bonetti and Northeast. What fun they must be having with this vicious, brilliant play, which may well be the star of this year’s Fringe.

 -- Toby Zinman

 

Philadelphia Artists’ Collective at the Franklin Inn Club, 205 S. Camac St. Through 9/23. $25.

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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."


Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.


Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.


Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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